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The Secret Commonwealth

The Book of Dust, Volume Two
Narrated by: Michael Sheen
Series: The Book of Dust, Book 2
Length: 19 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (4,028 ratings)

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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Shortlisted for Audiobook of the Year at the British Book Awards 2020.

Winner of Best Solo Narration at the New York Festival Radio Awards 2020

It is 20 years since the events of La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One unfolded and saw the baby Lyra Belacqua begin her life-changing journey.

It is almost 10 years since listeners left Lyra and the love of her young life, Will Parry, on a park bench in Oxford's Botanic Gardens at the end of the ground-breaking, best0selling His Dark Materials sequence.

Now, in The Secret Commonwealth, we meet Lyra Silvertongue. And she is no longer a child....

The second volume of Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust sees Lyra, now 20 years old, and her daemon Pantalaimon, forced to navigate their relationship in a way they could never have imagined and drawn into the complex and dangerous factions of a world that they had no idea existed. Pulled along on his own journey too is Malcolm; once a boy with a boat and a mission to save a baby from the flood, now a man with a strong sense of duty and a desire to do what is right.

Theirs is a world at once familiar and extraordinary and they must travel far beyond the edges of Oxford, across Europe and into Asia, in search for what is lost - a city haunted by daemons, a secret at the heart of a desert and the mystery of the elusive Dust.

The Secret Commonwealth is truly a book for our times; a powerful adventure and a thought-provoking look at what it is to understand yourself, to grow up and make sense of the world around you. This is storytelling at its very best from one of our greatest writers.

©2019 Philip Pullman (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

“Michael Sheen throws himself wholeheartedly into narrating this sequel to La Belle Sauvage and listeners will be rapt. For the ever-expanding international cast of characters, Sheen conjures a multitude of accents and delivers rapid-fire conversations between them. He's in step with the text at every turn; when situations become fraught or dangerous, Sheen ramps up the tension exquisitely. Thanks to Pullman's intricate storytelling and Sheen's propulsive narration, listeners will be on the edge of their seats right up to the cliff-hanger ending.” (AudioFile)

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing book, annoying performance

Great story, but the performer decided to use a weird west country accent for Lyra that makes no sense. Lyra wasn't a country girl, she was raised at a university with well spoken professors. In this story she's spent the last 8 years or so since the original trilogy at a university too.

Where is she supposed to have picked up this thick, West Country farmers accent from? It's so jarring, it takes me completely out of the story.

8 people found this helpful

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Not at all what I expected.

It took me a lot longer to get in to this story, his dark materials had me captivated from the first page. I was irritated with Lyra, I didn’t recognise her, she was very different from the younger version. I expected that the gutsy girl would grow in to a gutsy woman. What she had gone through when she was a girl, the things she saw, the people she met, there was nothing she couldn’t do, and yet now she has grown up she seemed a very weak personality. The old Lyra and her demon had gone to hell and back, what they had seen and experienced would of made them stronger together, and yet in the book they couldn’t stand one another. She knew far more then the two authors of the books she read. I couldn’t understand why she would give them the time of day. I stuck with the book, my husband was ahead of me and told me that it was worth it. He didn’t mention the end, if he had I may of put the book down. When I reached the end I felt robbed.

7 people found this helpful

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A long slog

OK I really wanted to love this. The reader is a fantastic actor and he gives an amazing performance. The story on the other hand was just a very long stream of small events with no real direction or end. Sorry but I have no idea what the author is trying to say. Its not very entertaining anyway

5 people found this helpful

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Is this a childrens book? I found it depressing

I loved Michael Sheen’s narration, brilliant as always. I am going to be honest and say this was not my favourite of Phillip Pullmans books and Lyra certainly had the most awful journey. I found it quite depressing in parts too. I always thought it was a children or teenagers series but not so sure of that with this one.

Not criticising Mr Pullman I loved all the others this one shocked me in its darkness and didnt give me that usual feeling after reading.

Maybe its just me.

5 people found this helpful

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Oh Dear....*spoilers*

Not often am I left so completely baffled and underwhelmed by a book that I put it to words...yet here we are.

Firstly, and a massive drawback to the entirety of the book is the return of Lyra. I fail to see why she has been reintroduced to the audience as an 'adult' when it seems our beloved character has devolved into a meek little dimwit. Gah! Imagine...just imagine, writing the heroine of a fantasy story, who does not believe in fantasy! It is absurd. Her dwaddle down logic lane is completely at odds with the fierce little girl who traversed the multi-verse just 10 years before. Lyra is a superficial shell of her former self...need I say more.

Next. The Malcolm & Lyra love arc. Can I get a collective shudder? Let's ask any irl female who grew up to have a former caregiver come on to her if she swooned? I know the age gap is only 10 years but Lyra is portrayed as especially naive, and as a reader, it appeared that this grown, experienced professor had absolutely nothing in common with this vulnerable 20 year old. Just the fact that he used to change her nappies and describes his love for her entirely in physical terms...her hair, her scent, her body.....cringe....and Gah!

Lastly, it's all the little things that drove me to despair. The slow moving plot. Why is Hannah Ralph referred to as elderly now 10 years on when I was under the impression her career was just getting started last book? Why does Lyra, upon receiving a vial of rose water, a seemingly mystical and rare commodity, never become curious enough to look at it again? The CCD round up of people towards the end of the book was very odd in the way that every person involved seemed to react in the same way...by kicking and screaming...it undermined the premise of the CCD as a tyrannical formidable power...and having such cohesion between the victims gives no sense of realism or individualism of character making for sloppy writing as far as I'm concerned. Gah! There are more but my ears are starting to release steam so I'll leave it at that.

One thing I will say in Philip Pullman's favour is that I adored the previous books and he is a far superior narrator to Michael Sheen. However, this installment will be hard to forget, for all the wrong reasons. I prefer to see it as a blip that will fade from my memory over time. Sigh. Sad and disheartening, even more so after reading many reviews contrary to mine.

All of this is just my humble opinion of course. By nature, it is bound to be subjective to every reader. Personally, I implore you: save your time! Save your sanity! Save your wallet...

& Gah!

16 people found this helpful

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Not up to standard

It really could be better. Shouldn't have brought Lyra back into the world without an amazing storyline.

14 people found this helpful

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I don’t get what all the fuss is about! Did I listen to a different book?!

I have read his dark materials many times which I love; the characters, the plot, the magic... but this! I’m just not quite sure what this is! Firstly what happened to the Lyra we love, where’s the plot to keep us enthralled. I feel like i have just listened to over 19hrs of Michael Sheen telling me a story which doesn’t really go anywhere! For the love I bare for the first trilogy I will persevere and carry on with the next book but I do hope it leads somewhere good!

13 people found this helpful

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The cliffhanger gets the dime

Such a disappointment. As the ending approached it became very obvious that the plot was more about the next advance than any closure on the current story.

8 people found this helpful

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Listened In One Go

MESMERISING.

Listened in my car on journey from Fort William to Berlin. We flew!

Narration is incredible.

25 people found this helpful

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I can not wait for the third installment.

If you loved his dark materials you will love this book.

Faster paced that La Belle Sauvage, and left on a cliff hanger. Lots of characters from his dark materials make an appearance and the story does require you to have read that trilogy first.

Michael Sheen is excellent reading this.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Grace
  • 23-10-19

Expectations were high

After the volume one , the expectations were high, and so was the disappointment.
Still OK, but stretched out thinly, and narrator ruins it by exaggeration.
The end is missing,
I presume that sooner or later the story will continue in a Volume 3, but still, it feels like the the book ends midd sentence, leaving me disappointed.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-06-20

epic

another epic story! I cannot wait for the next book in this trilogy nu Pullman

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  • Trex
  • 06-11-19

I Didn't Love It

Missing a lot of the charm shining from La Belle Sauvage

Not a great deal happens

Once upon a time not having a daemon was unthinkable now it's everywhere.

Lyra goes on a journey bouncing from one person who helps her to another

Political Commentary is very thinly veiling (The evil petrol company is called TP)

Malcolm's position is borderline disturbing

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  • James
  • 23-12-19

Amazing

This is the best Philip Pullman book I have ever read and I have read all of his dark material s

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • MeganRae
  • 06-12-19

Superb!!!

Simply superb- the story and the narration by Michael Sheen. Can’t wait for volume 3!!!

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  • Nikola Vranic
  • 08-11-19

Exquisite!

Once again, Philip Pullman masterfully told a story that I personally, waited patiently since “La Belle Sauvage”, and, I’ll be waiting patiently for the third book as well. I expected nothing less from one of the greatest writers of our time. You just have to read this book!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-11-19

En god fortsättning av serien.

Jag är mycket road av även denna serie av herr Pullman. Denna rekommenderas varmt till beundrare av hans tidigare alster.
S.Nilsson

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  • Kate Hoole
  • 16-10-19

Thrilling, disturbing story breathtakingly well read.

A thrilling new chapter in the story of Lyra Silvertongue, and one quite unlike the ones that have come before, being far more akin to our world of struggle and political horrors and adult pain, as it must be, being the story of a young woman caught in events far broader and more evil than any she has encountered before. The vast cast is brilliantly given voice by Michael Sheen, probably the best audiobook narrator I have listened to. Every character has their own voice, every scene is described with tenderness, or humour or in breathtaking vivid action.
A triumph whose conclusion cannot come soon enough.

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  • Holle TechNolle
  • 11-10-19

Excellent and long awaited

Devoured this audiobook in only a few sessions.
Can't wait to hear the next one.
Only flaw: A Pine Marten is a canivore, not a rodent.